Last updated June 23, 2017
When you work in the non-profit sector, everyone assumes that the people you manage will be kind, caring, loving and well behaved. However, you and I both know that’s not always the case. This 4 step process is a great way to have difficult conversations about challenging behaviour.
Step 1: Pull the Person Aside for a Private Conversation
It’s important that any bad behaviour is addressed out of view from others. Shaming someone in front of the team is not a great way to get results.
Step 2: State the Recent Behaviour You Have Observed
This is not a big, long winded conversation, it is simply a chance to state what you have noticed. Make it concise (less than 25 words), in a conversational tone, and use “I” statements. eg. I noticed that you were 20 minutes late to work this morning.
Step 3: Shut Up
Too often we feel uncomfortable in silence and rush in to fill the gap. As a result, we often excuse or explain away the behaviour on their behalf. It is important that once you have stated the behaviour, you shut up and wait for their response – no matter how long it takes.
Step 4: Re-Set their Behaviour
Just as you clearly stated the behaviour in step 2, now is your opportunity to re-set their behaviour by telling them precisely what you expect. Once again, keep the statement short (less than 25 words) and use “I” statements. eg. I expect you to turn up to work on time from now on.
What if they make an excuse for their behaviour?
Start with “That may be the case, however…” and then reiterate the behaviour that is expected eg. That may be the case, but when you arrive late to work, it causes extra stress for the rest of the team. I expect you to turn up to work on time from now on.
What if they start pointing out bad behaviour of others?
Start with “That may be case, but it is your behaviour I am addressing at the moment…” and then reiterate the behaviour that is expected.
What if they keep doing it?
Use the same technique, but state the pattern that is occurring. eg. I spoke to you last month about turning up for work on time, I notice that you were 20 minutes late to work again this morning.
What if they still keep doing it?
Use the same technique, but state that the pattern is affecting your relationship. eg. I spoke to you last month about your pattern of arriving at work late. It is making it hard for me to see you as a reliable member of staff.
Dealing with difficult behaviour can cause a huge amount of stress for non-profit managers, but the longer you leave it the more stressful it becomes. Make sure you address bad behaviour as soon as it occurs.
In many cases, simply calling out the behaviour is enough to put it back on track. If you are consistent in calling it out, eventually the person will either change their behaviour, or get so sick of it being addressed they will leave of their own accord.
Kerri is a Facilitator / Trainer with Exult and has over 20 years experience working in and for the community sector.
If you think this article would be useful for your members, you are welcome to use it on your website or in your newsletter. We just ask that you let us know where it is being used, and that you acknowledge our website at the bottom of the article. If you are using the article online, please include a link to our homepage.